If you're a liberal looking for some solace after last night's Republican rout in the midterms, there is a place where progressives rule, where voters want government to increase support for the poor, where the idea of taxing the rich to do that doesn't come off like class warfare. It's Seattle.
And last night residents there voted to tax themselves to fund a $58 million pilot program providing city-subsidized high-quality childcare to low-income families. What's more, the measure won with 67 percent of the vote. And the main dispute wasn't over whether or not to invest in universal preschool — but which proposal to choose.
From the Seattle Times:
The Proposition 1B levy will cost the owner of a Seattle home valued at $400,000 about $43 a year, according to the city. The money will go to select, high-quality preschools to provide slots to families based on income. It will ramp up over time, serving 280 children in 2015, and subsidizing up to 2,000 by 2018.
It will make preschool free for families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $70,000 a year for a family of four.
And it will subsidize preschool on a sliding scale for families earning up to 760 percent of the federal poverty level, or $185,000 for a family of four. Families making more will receive a 5 percent tuition subsidy.
The property tax, as Seattle Mayor Ed Murray puts it, will cost homeowners each month less than the cost of a latté.
And the potential benefits? Research suggests that the earlier we invest in children, the greater the returns, for both kids and society. And those returns can play out in higher graduation rates, lower crime, better job outcomes and less welfare use. Spend a dollar of public money on early childhood interventions like great preschool, and society may get back anywhere from $1.80 to $17.07.